It’s a no brainer. Tony Blair should be the next president of the European Union.
He is the only candidate with the vision, stature and star quality to give the EU the credibility it needs.
As David Miliband rightly points out, we need an EU President who can “stop traffic”. Tony Blair is that man.
Contrary to what some media commentators have argued, he also proved himself as a committed Europhile when he was in office. So what, that the UK did not join the Euro under his watch? This is not the only defining characteristic of being a good European.
Under Blair, there was no more “awkward partner” or “empty chair” policy as there had been under John Major. Instead, we got a dynamic leader (who incidentally speaks French) who put the UK in the driving seat of European reform. On every issue ranging from European defence to the Budget to climate change to EU enlargement, the UK played a key role in shaping EU policy. This was thanks to Tony Blair. His contribution over ten years in power was invaluable.
The Left should support his candidacy because with Labour facing near certain electoral defeat next year, we will need a strong counterweight to what will be a viscerally bonkers anti-EU Tory Government. A Tony Blair presidency makes David Cameron’s job a lot harder. We should relish that.
Blair is also a naturally outward looking leader and this is what the EU needs. There would be little or no institutional introspection with him. Good. He would be very clear about his goals and achieving them. He could not be ignored in the capitals of Beijing, Moscow or Delhi.
After Bill Clinton, he is probably the best political communicator going. If anyone can explain the Byzantine workings of the EU to ordinary voters, he can. As he demonstrated in Northern Ireland, he is also capable of the type of schmoozing and arm twisting that is an essential feature of EU business. Never underestimate Tony Blair’s ability to persuade people.
If EU leaders fail to choose Tony Blair, it will be a bad omen. It will show that they are not really serious about reforming the EU and making it a stronger actor in world affairs.
We should get behind a Blair presidency. It will be good for Europe and what is good for Europe is good for Britain.
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